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Homey & Google Home - differences, compatibility and collaboration

Homey & Google Home - differences, compatibility and collaboration

“Homey combines all your wireless and smart devices at home into a single place”. This is the main promise of Homey. As Google Home is also doing 'smart home stuff', you might be wondering what the differences are exactly. So, are they direct competitors? And what are the differences exactly?

Just like Homey, Google Home does ‘something in smart home’. However, next to sharing some functionality, there are also a lot of differences between the two. As you will see below, Homey and Google Home products are more companions than direct competitors. Let us explain.

Note: for simplicity’s sake I will compare Homey, including the Homey platform and ecosystem to a Google Home Mini device with Google Assistant and its ecosystem. For other Google Assistant-powered devices the same arguments will hold true.

Using Alexa? We have made a similar guide about Homey vs Amazon Alexa.

The differences between Homey and Google Home

The core of the products is already vastly different. Homey, in essence, is a Smart Home platform. That means its main goal is to combine all your devices at home into a single system. Homey provides control, automation, monitoring and more. Google Home, on the other hand, is designed as a voice assistant. Its main goal is helping you with a multitude of task through a voice command – from ordering a pizza to reading your calendar and, indeed, some device control.

This difference in focus means that the two systems are the best at different things. Google Home is great at voice control and interaction, and in performing the most common actions for a wide variety of tasks. Homey on the other hand is better at managing your smart home.

Concretely, this concerns a number of points that Homey does differently than Google Home, and which center around:

  1. connectivity,
  2. automation,
  3. analysis and
  4. privacy.

The connectivity of Homey and Google Home

Let’s start with connectivity. Both Homey and Google Home can connect with smart devices. However, for a device to connect with Google Home it has to be cloud connected. Technically, there is no other way. To connect to Homey, a device might be cloud connected, like for example your smart thermostat. However, not all your devices are in the cloud, and Homey does not require a device to be to connect to it.

Homey also connects to devices that are not in the cloud, but are in your local network or just in your home with a remote control. To achieve this, Homey does not only have a WiFi and cloud connection, but also features six other wireless technologies. Like 433MHz, used for products like socket switches and motorized blinds; Zigbee, for smart lightbulbs like IKEA TRADFRI; Z-Wave, used by wireless sensors and switches like Fibaro; and Infrared, to control your tv, XBOX or stereo.

All these devices are not in the cloud. Sometimes you can get them in the cloud, but you will need a gateway or bridge for that. That is why Homey connects directly to these devices. This way they are still part of your Smart Home. If you want, Homey can even act as a bridge for these devices, so you can connect them to Google Home, even if the brand itself does not support that.

Automation of Homey and Google Home

Next to connectivity, there’s automation. Homey Flow is a uniquely powerful way of tying everything in your home together. Google Assistant, of course, has Routines. Although they might sound the same, Google Routines are severely limited compared to Homey’s Flows.

Routines in Google Assistant can only be triggered trough voice. That’s it. Routines combine multiple actions in your home, but you will always need to say the words for them to happen. Homey Flows, however, can be triggered based on all kinds of situations. Think of events like sunset and sunrise, your alarm time, the fact that you arrive at home or a motion sensor that is triggered. Want the hallway light to turn on when the door opens? No problem. Want to turn the music off when you turn on the tv? Done.

Another big difference is the …AND… option in Homey Flow. This is something Google’s Routines do not have, and allows you to limit the execution of your Flow to certain conditions. This way you won’t get a push notification from your doorbell after 10 PM on weekdays, for example. It lets your motion sensor turn on your toilet light to just 10% at night, and full on during the day.

Having these extra options is pinnacle to create an elegant and well-working smart home.

Insight into your home

This one might be a bit geekier, but it’s also hugely interesting. Of course it’s great to control and automate your smart home. But what’s also great about smart homes is that you can see what it’s been up to. With Homey Insights, you can easily track the activities within home: what has been the living room temperature during the week? How much power has my fridge been using?

Through analysis and monitoring Homey allows you to keep an eye on your home: track your household’s energy consumption and generation. Create simple intruder alerts. View security camera feeds in the Homey App, or even on your Chromecast when motion is triggered.

Homey allows you to see all the information about your home and, at the same time, keeps it just for you. It provides you with an interface to your data. Which ties in perfectly with our last, but certainly not least, point:

Privacy of your data with Homey and Google Home

Homey and Google Home have different business models. Google is an advertising company. It does not make any money on selling super-cheap Google Home devices. Instead, Google wants to cater ads to you based on what you like. This means that it uses all your Google Home data to ‘know what you like’. In other words, all your actions, devices and commands are used to create a profile of you. Google then uses this profile in the way they see fit.

If you get Homey, on the other hand, you pay for the product, and the software on it. We don’t create profiles based on what you like. The information your home generates is just for you, and our Privacy-by-Design policy prohibits us from using your personal data in another way.

Whether you regard this difference as a problem is personal of course, but we believe your home is too. The extent to which data is gathered of course also differs per home. But if we know one thing: your smart home is going to expand. So, on what base will you be building?

 HomeyGoogle Home
Connectivitycloud-connected devices & local devices on Wi-Fi, 433MHz, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Infrared….only cloud-connected devices
Automationexpanded and versatilelimited
Analysisyes (Homey Insights)no
Privacyprivacy-by-design, no profiling or personal data collecteddesigned for profiling and collection of personal data
Voicevia third party integrations like Facebook, Google Home or Alexadirectly integrated

Homey and Google Home working together

With the differences in focus and functionality, Google Home and Homey are probably better at working together than at replacing each other. They have very different implementations of core Smart Home functionalities, making them complementary, rather than replacing each other.

Google Home is reliant on gateways and hubs – if they are available at all. It needs them to bridge the connection between lots of devices and the cloud. This is where the combination of Google Home and Homey comes in. Homey is not only a brilliant Smart Home platform, with its own app, Flow automation and analysis. At the same time, it can act as a gateway between Google Home and your devices, bringing voice control to them. If you want a solid Smart Home, you now know what Homey can do for you, based on versatility in connectivity and automation, as well as privacy.

If you also want the great Google Home voice control, simply partner your Homey with a Google Home Mini, and get the best of both worlds – and you can even choose in Homey if you want your home data to sync with Google, or if you stay private.

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